What are the risk factors for heart attack and stroke?
The risk factors that affect whether you’re more likely to have a heart attack or stroke fall into 3 general categories: major risk factors, modifiable risk factors, and contributing risk factors. Major risk factors can’t be changed, and include:
- Increasing age: People older than age 65 are at greater risk for heart attack and stroke.
- Gender: Men have a higher heart attack risk, women have a higher stroke risk.
- Family history: Having a parent, grandparent, or sibling who has had a heart attack or stroke raises your risk.
Modifiable risk factors include:
- Smoking: Quitting smoking decreases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
- Hypertension: Getting high blood pressure under control can cut your risks.
- High blood cholesterol: Managing your cholesterol and triglyceride levels can help reduce your heart attack and stroke risk.
- Physical inactivity: Staying physically active can help reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as help prevent chronic disease.
- Obesity: Losing excess body fat, especially around the waistline, helps prevent heart attack and stroke.
Contributing risk factors include:
- Stress: Chronic stress or poor stress management may contribute to your heart attack and stroke risk.
- Alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
- Diet and nutrition: Eating right can reduce your heart attack and stroke risk and help prevent disease.
What’s included in the evaluation?
The Stroke and Heart Attack Prevention Evaluation requires 2 appointments. The first appointment lasts about 3 hours and includes a cardiovascular exam, a comprehensive physiological assessment, and a nutritional consultation. During this appointment, your doctor reviews your lifestyle, personal health history, and family history before you undergo a comprehensive physical exam including lab work, an assessment of the plaque buildup in your carotids, and exercise testing.
Afterward, you’ll sit down with a nutritionist to go over nutritional goals and recommendations. During the hour-long, follow-up consultation, you’ll receive the results of your evaluation, along with detailed lifestyle recommendations and a personalized exercise prescription aimed at minimizing your risks.